JILAF, together with the Thai Council of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC-TC), held an industrial relations and labour policy seminar on November 7–8, 2020, in the city of Si Racha in Thailand. A total of 115 people participated.
At the beginning of the seminar, addresses were given by JILAF President Hiroyuki Nagumo, ITUC-TC Deputy General Secretary Mr. Manop Kuera (deputy general secretary of the State Enterprise Workers Relations Confederation [SERC]), Directo Mr. Nikom Tabtimthongchai of the Department of Industrial Dispute Resolution in the Thai Ministry of Labour, Secretary General Siriwan Romchattong of the Employers’ Confederation of Thailand (ECOT), Ms. Yuki Otsuji of the Bureau for Workers’ Activities (ACTRAV) of the International Labour Organization (ILO), and First Secretary Iori Inomata of the Japanese Embassy in Thailand, sharing the seminar’s purpose, objective, and so on with the participants.
After mentioning measures in Japan to minimize the impact of Covid-19 on employment, JILAF Deputy Secretary General Toshihiro Saito spoke about the role and issues of trade unions, sharing information mainly on efforts to build constructive industrial relations and prevent pointless industrial disputes, as well as the historical background. The participants asked questions on such matters as details about legal support for laid-off workers, including the impact of Covid-19; details about trade union finances in Japan; efforts of trade unions to expand organization and organize nonregular workers; and efforts to foster understanding on the management side of the participation of non-full-time trade union officials in union activities. Deputy Secretary General Saito gave pertinent replies to these questions.
Mr. Arun Kumar of the ILO then spoke about constructive industrial relations. Comparing industrial relations in Asian countries, he introduced Japan’s industrial relations as one model case. Regarding industrial relations in Thailand, he said that while industrial relations should be built in accordance with the situation in that country, Thailand should definitely refer to the example of Japan, where the building of constructive industrial relations was progressing.
Next, Director Mr. Nikom Tabtimthongchai of the Thai Ministry of Labour shared information about measures being tackled by the Ministry of Labour toward the prevention of pointless industrial disputes. The director urged the need for an attitude of mutual respect and said that since cooperative relations between labour and management could not be built overnight, a long-term response was necessary.
As measures to prevent industrial disputes, ECOT Secretary General Siriwan pointed to the need to make relentless efforts to find common ground and to educate the management side. She also stressed the importance of recognizing the raison d’etre of trade union executives, who represent many trade union members, and shared information on the digitization of activities, methods of communication, and so on, especially amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition, the participants took part in group discussions on the themes of “Efforts toward the building of constructive industrial relations” and “The prevention of pointless industrial disputes.” Each group then presented action plans necessary for the building of constructive industrial relations, especially in these difficult times. Their suggestions included “It is important for labour and management to have mutual respect and to foster trustworthy relations”; “It is necessary for workers also to improve their skills and enhance their value”; “In order to improve the company’s business performance, it is necessary to have a bottom-up approach from the labour side as well”; “It is necessary for management and labour to closely share information so that they can have a common vision”; “It is necessary to modernize labour legislation, which in some respects no longer suits the present situation”; and “When labour and management hold discussions, it is necessary to produce proper minutes and, after checks by both sides, keep records.” In response, JILAF Deputy Secretary General Saito commented that the action plans reflected the content of the two-day seminar and that he hoped the participants would always strive to put them into practice in their workplace industrial relations.
In the closing ceremony, JILAF President Nagumo expressed gratitude for the fact that 115 participants had gathered for the seminar, as well as his full agreement with the action plans presented in the seminar. Bringing the seminar to an end, he commented, “The further deepening of industrial relations is also required to overcome the Covid-19 crisis. Since this can be achieved by deepening trust with the other party, I look forward to your activities in your respective positions from now on.”